Satrangi Ladke/ Satrangi Ladkiyan ~ Kamala Bhasin and Priya Kurein

“You are a boy, and you are crying?”

” Girls are supposed to talk softly not shout at the top of their voices!”

“Boys are supposed to play cricket, not with dolls!”

“Girls are supposed to learn how to cook, not play football!”

Sounds familiar?

Weren’t these some of the instructions given to us when growing up?

Such stereotypes are demolished in the book “Satrangi Ladke” and “Satrangi Ladkiyan” , written by Kamala Bhasin and Priya Kurein. The books, “Satrangi Ladke” and “Satrangi Ladkiyan” start off with a question.  

भला क्यों हों वह सब एक जैसे?

वे कया एक दूसरे की फ़ोटो कॉपी हैं ?


“Satrangi Ladke” /”Satrangi Ladkiyan”, Kamala Bhasin

From this question, the book moves on to the endless possibilities of what a child can be. Away from the stereotypes, away from the limitations of their gender. They can be tall, or short or disabled or vain or playful or studious or environmentally conscious. The book challenges the stereotypes boys and girls face due to their gender. “Satrangi Ladke” shows boys playing with dolls, boys with long hair, boys knitting and sewing. “Satrangi Ladkiyan” shows girls with short hair, girls who play sports, girls who shout at the top of their voices. 

Recently I was watching the movie Patch Adams with my children when a dialogue hit close to home. Truman tells Patch that as children, we are open and receptive to the world. However, as we grow older, we become conditioned by societal norms, becoming wary of anything different. We start closing our minds to new ideas and people. This means we need to pay more attention to what we are teaching our children. Do we teach them the age-old practices which close off their minds, or do we teach them about the beauty of this world. Do we teach them how to conform and put them in boxes, or do we let them revel in their uniqueness? 

“Satrangi Ladke/Ladkiyan” normalises the breaking of stereotypes of what a boy or girl should look like or how they should behave. A child doesn’t need to fit in the template devised by gender and society. Written in simple language and supported by colourful illustrations, the book introduces concepts like inclusion and diversity to the children at a young age. The children realise that they can have the freedom to be whatever they want, without being limited by their gender.

Our world is filled with strife and distrust. Part of the problem is that we are wary of people who are different from us. We feel the need to conform and not stand out, as we do not want to draw attention to ourselves, or heaven forbid, be attacked for being different. We need more stories like “Satrangi Ladke/Ladkiyan” to normalise children being true to themselves and to revel in their uniqueness. When children become aware of the fact that everyone is unique, they become more empathetic. And an empathetic next generation hopefully means a kinder world in the future.

And finally, the most important lines of the book.

“Satrangi Ladke” /”Satrangi Ladkiyan”, Kamala Bhasin

 

“Satrangi Ladke” has been nominated in the PFC-VOW 2021 longlist for Children’s Writings/Picture Books. “Satrangi Ladke” and “Satrangi Ladkiyan” have been translated as Rainbow Boys and Rainbow Girls into English as well as into 15 other regional languages. It has been published by Pratham Books.


This post is part of Blogchatter’s #CauseAChatter – #GenderTalks campaign

If you liked this post maybe you can check out my post “Why Do We Need Diverse Children’s Books“, on the need for diversity in children’s books

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